There is a saying that people throw around with an air of wisdom without truly knowing the financial consequences of following: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is easy to say this to the young intern that needs a new brake system to prevent a future accident, or to the young couple that has yet to sign up for health insurance, or to the person in their 30s who should have gotten their wisdom teeth out to prevent the thousand dollar dentist bill they are now facing (let alone the extra pain of infected, impacted teeth).
But what about when it comes time for you to ante up the money for something preventative with no immediate tangible benefits? Trust me, the experience is quite different.
Buying Our First Home
My fiancée and I are in the process of buying our first home. We fell in love with a gorgeous house in Houston, Texas that is located just ten-fifteen miles away from both of our jobs, has a cute backyard that is big enough for a vegetable garden, and has enough bedrooms to convert one into my very own office.
After making an offer against three competing bids and winning, we celebrated our success. We knew we were now going to be taking out a loan bigger than any other loans we had ever taken out combined, but this was an expected expense. What we hadn’t expected, and what came next, were the preventative measure costs.
At first it was the General Inspection and a Termite Inspection, which racked up $350. And then it was the additional AC/Heat diagnostic inspection, for $130. Add in a survey and an appraisal, and suddenly we were looking at $1030 extra in the name of prevention.
Even in this instance where the preventative costs were high, these inspections truly were an ounce of prevention when you take into consideration the total investment we are making.
Checkout the possible problems these inspections found and the actual costs we could have been looking at down the road had these problems not surfaced until after the sale of the home (in other words, once we were living in it):
- Several weep holes, which allow the inside of walls to breathe in the very humid Houston region, were closed off. Possible future mold issues. Future cost: depending on severity, up to $20,000, although average issues cost between $500-$4,000.
- Flash seals on the roof were sticking up in several areas, which could allow water from future rainstorms to seep into the ceiling of the house. Possible plaster, walls, and mold issues. Future cost: depending on severity, see above.
- Deficient AC/Heating systems throughout the house. Possible high electricity bills as soon as we move in (owners currently paying nearly $500 a month in the summertime to cool off the home), and $10,000-$12,000 in future system replacement costs.
We paid the prevention costs, and because it gave us knowledge of these issues, we were able to negotiate with the owners to fix the problems before they had the opportunity to become budget-disasters for us. We were also able to target options in a home warranty plan that would be valuable to us in the future and protect us from possible outcomes from other issues that surfaced during the inspections.
An Ounce of Prevention
There are no guarantees in life, plain and simple. But some services allow us to take a sneak peek at something that could go wrong, and then act accordingly to insure ourselves against the possible outcomes.
Nobody likes to spend $1030 before purchasing a home, and certainly not my fiancée and me. But how much would we like to shell out $3,000 for future mold issues, or $10,000 to replace two AC units? In this case, the answer was obvious: no matter how much this ounce of prevention hurt, we said goodbye to the $1030, and are thankful for what it will save us in the future.